When you wrote the Knowing My God series, what need were you hoping to fill with this series?
This series started as a desire to share the actual words of Jesus with my infant daughter. While Bible translations for young children have a place in a new life, they lose much of the original meaning. So I made a little flip chart book for her with photographs and Jesus' words. I really believed her heart, as God's creation, would hear those words and recognize them. As Graham Blanchard started developing the idea into a series, we realized that a much larger connection could be made with the beautiful real-world photographs. The books evolved into the multi-level format that offers an experience baby, toddler, and young child.
With Jesus Shows Me and and Jesus Invites Me you focus on a scripture passage, what about these specific verses drew you?
The Jesus Invites Me passage of Matthew-30 is foundational, so much so that it is referred to as the Great Invitation. Here, Jesus pleads with a heart-rending love for the world to find comfort and life with Him. It was the passage I used for that first homemade book for my daughter. If she never heard another passage, I wanted her to know that one.
Jesus Shows Me based on John 15:9-14 reflects the primary plea of God with humankind: Love me and obey me. Do a Bible search on "If you love me…" and you will find that it runs the course of Bible—and human—history. It's fundamental. God made us to love Him. Everything good and beautiful and eternal flows from that. And Jesus came to earth to show us what that kind of life looks like.
In All of Me that You Can't See you focus on the spiritual self. Do you feel that there is a lack of this awareness in books for children?
It's a human tendency to focus on the physical side of life, especially where children are concerned with all their daily needs. But they do have spiritual lives that need nurturing, too. This is where we believe the "first five years" are most important—a child's spiritual life with Jesus. All of Me That You Can't See is an Absorb book in the Graham Blanchard Learn-Absorb-Praise collection. We plan for our Absorb books to help convey who God is and how He made us to be in a relationship with Him. But to facilitate that, we aren't creating a how-to manual. We focus on a child's enjoyment of a book—is it engaging, beautifully illustrated, memorable—as a way to honor God and give parents the latitude to start conversations with their children.
Mud Puddle Hunting Day takes a look at enjoying the simple joys in life, do you hope that children will take this lesson to heart and learn to enjoy the joys and beauty of the world around them?
Oh, I think children, especially in the years 0 to 7, are full of hope, wonder, and joy, and are always game for an adventure—the girl in this book will be a kindred spirit to them all. In some ways, Mud Puddle Hunting Day is more about bringing the adult into the child's world, and experiencing with the child the remarkable wonders of everyday life. But also, a child who plays in mud on a rainy day should know how pleasing that is to God! He, too, marvels at His creation. That's why this is a Praise book in our collection. That just means we remember God in all we do.
Did you have a book that you took greater pleasure in writing than the others? If so which one was it and why?
All of these books have been in the works for a long time and had a strong network of people working on them. The illustrators were very involved in shaping the final outcome. This process isn't for every writer—it takes some detachment from the idea of being an author who has all the answers, and accepting a lot of input. I have greatly enjoyed this process, though, and seeing what God does along the way. Trying to say which one gave more pleasure would be like trying to choose a favorite child. They are all amazing to me in their own way and have taken on a life of their own.
Now we will take a closer look at Callie's books -
-Jesus Shows Me is the first book in the “Knowing My God” series, which teaches young children about God’s love by explaining selected scripture through colorful photographs and supportive text. Each page of this board book illustrates a segment of John 15:9-14 with a photo of an animal parent caring for its young, which exemplifies how God loves people. Illustrated by Jodie Stowe this is a delightful book that will capture your child's attention as they learn about the various aspects of a parents love as observed through the parent/child relationship of animals.
-Jesus Invites Me is the second book in the “Knowing My God” series, and explains Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus calls people to learn from him and to follow him. With illustrations by Jodie Stowe a child learns that by accepting the invitation of Jesus they will experience life in a new way. And Jesus is a loving guide that will never allow them to get lost.
-All of Me that You Can’t See is an illustrated rhyme that invites the child reader to become aware of his or her own spiritual self. With illustrations by Jeremy Tugeau a child learns that what he or she sees on the outside is only a small portion of who they really are. The inside hidden part needs to grow too and with the guidance of God and family the heart, mind, and soul can and will grow.
-Mud Puddle Hunting Day written follows a young girl’s splashy walk in the rain, as she discovers and celebrates some of life’s little joys. With illustrations by Melanie Magee your child or grandchild can learn to enjoy the simple pleasures of the natural created world. As the young girl and her dog enjoy their wet day they observe how different everything is on a day that they are searching for the perfect mud puddle in which to play.
The photos and illustrations in all the above books should capture the attention of the youngest readers and listeners. These books are perfect for afternoon and bedtime readings and together time with mom and dad.
As these books are board books they are sturdy and should withstand rough handling by young readers.
I was provided a copy of these titles by Shelton Interactive in exchange for my honest review.